Derrick Bateman vs. Colt Cabana from AIW’s A Night of Mystery 2006
Fun fact: this is the first Derrick Bateman match I have ever seen. They traded some holds to start the match. Colt did some shenanigans. They did some dancing. Colt got a couple of nearfalls with small packages. Everyone (including the referee) got dizzy and fell down at one point. They traded some chops. Colt was in control until Bateman came back with some shoulder tackles. Bateman got a nearfall with a Falcon Arrow. Colt came back with a dropkick and a Flying Asshole: 1...2...NO! Bateman caught him in a pinning combination: 1...2...3!
This match was short and sweet. The match came across like the typical Colt Cabana "house show" match, which there is usually nothing wrong with. This isn't a match that you have to see, but you won't regret taking the time to watch it. Match Rating: **1/2
Shiima Xion (Zema Ion) vs. Nobutaka Moribe from Motor City Deathwish 2007
They went back and forth for a while at the start. Nobutka got the advantage briefly, but Zion came back with a nice top rope dropkick and slingshot sex factor. The two went back and forth some more after that, trading nearfalls. Nobutka hit a nice frog splash for a nearfall, but Xion recovered and hit a snapmare driver for the win! The crowd booed him for winning. They raised each other's hands after the match.
When I first saw this, I incorrectly assumed this was the only time that these two worked each other, but with Zema's thoughts in mind, it's clear why these two had great chemistry. Xion clearly had potential here, but he has grown so much in presence since this match. Match Rating: ***
Tyler jumped Starless during the ring intros, but Starless quickly recovered. The fans were very pro-Starless. Tyler wiped out Starless with a suicide dive though. Back in the ring, Starless jumped off Tyler onto the top turnbuckle to give Xion a super hurricanrana. Tyler put Starless in the Doomsday position, but Xion gave Starless a super dropkick; Starless then gave Tyler a reverse hurricanrana on the way down. Tyler recovered and got a nearfall on Starless with a top-rope frogsplash. Xion dropkicked Tyler and then wiped out Starless with a plancha. Starless recovered and climbed to the top of a tall scaffold: MOONSAULT! That looked amazing. Starless dragged Xion in for the pin, but Tyler pulled out the referee. Tyler sent Starless to the outside after a springboard clotheslines and then pinned Xion with a pop up kick to the gut. Wow, that finish came out of nowhere.
This match was just about as much fun as the first one. It could have been great, but it only went 8 minutes. If this match had 5 more minutes, and with a less out-of-nowhere finish, this could have been truly special. Instead, it’s just very, very good. Whatever happened to Starless? Match Rating: ***1/2
Tyler immediately started stalling, walking around the ring, and then demanded that a commentator rub his shoulders. Tyler baited Gargano to chase after him, which initially allowed Tyler to get the advantage, but Gargano quickly evened things up. Gargano was able to get some momentum and got a nearfall with a back senton. Gargano was going for the 10 punches in the corner, but Tyler was able to send him to the mat to cut him off. Tyler got the heat for a while after that. Gargano got a nearfall with a small package, but Tyler cut him right off. Gargano made a comeback, hitting a Flying Chuck for a nearfall. Gargano then hit a Stunner: 1…2…NO! They traded some rollup attempts, some looking smoother than others. Then they did the dueling cross-bodies spot and both men are down with 1 minute left in the time limit. Tyler hit a Pele kick, but Gargano came back with the Hurt’s Donut: 1…2…TIME LIMIT EXPIRES!
Tyler was already having great matches in Ring of Honor at this point, but Gargano was still a couple of years away from becoming a top independent star. So, it’s not the great match you would hope for now, but this match still had a lot of good action. Normally, a 15 minute time limit finish is not a match you want on a “Best of” DVD, but it should play into the story of the next match nicely. Match Rating: ***1/4
Team Oreo (Johnny Gargano, Flip Kendrick & Louis Lyndon) vs. Team Beyond (Jonny Mangue, Chase Burnett, & Zane Silver) from Jack of All Trios 2010
Team Oreo got a great reaction coming out. Team Beyond did not. Gargano sent Burnett through the ropes and Burnett nearly died crashing on the floor. That truly sounded like death. Flip and Mangue tagged in, and they displayed some surprisingly great chemistry. Flip got the better of the exchange. Silver and Lyndon tagged in. Zilver DDTed Lyndon onto the apron, so Gargano tagged in. Zilver hit a hurricanrana on Lyndon to the floor. Gargano went for his slingshot spear, but Team Beyond all hit dropkicks on him in mid-air. Burnett hit a springboard senton onto all of Team Oreo on the floor. Silver hit a corkscrew plancha. Kendrick sent Mangue to the floor, and then Flip hit a corkscrew plancha onto everyone. Back in the ring, Mangue hit the Rolling Thunder Headbutt on Flip. Lyndon hit the bridging Dragon Suplex on Mangue: 1…2…BURNETT MADE THE SAVE! Burnett hit the moonsault double knees to Lyndon. Silver killed Gargano with a spinning heel kick. Burnett followed that with a Coast-to-Coast Dropkick: 1…2…AEROFORM MADE THE SAVE! Flip hit a standing shooting star on Burnett: 1…2…NO! Silver hit Flip with a rope-assisted Mic Check: 1…2…NO! Lyndon and Gargano then cleared house of Team Beyond. Mangue ate a kick to the head from all three Team Oreo members: 1…2…3!
This match was a lot of fun and a great start to AIW’s second day of the Jack of All Trios match. Chase Burnett looked awesome here, and he makes everyone’s offense look like a million bucks. AIW would be wise to bring him back in and stick him in a tag team. It also should be noted that Gargano truly looked like he was ready to break out. Definitely check out this match.
PS: Knowing Johnny Gargano's love of the greatness of the nineties, I hope the "Team Oreo" name is at least in part, a homage to The Mighty Ducks movie! Match Rating: ***1/2
Akira Tozawa vs. Johnny Gargano from AIW’s Todd Pettengill Invitational 2011
Gargano was the Absolute Champion at the time, but this was a non-title match. Both guys are really over with the crowd, as expected. This is the first time these two have met in the ring.
Gargano hit a sole butt, a double stomp to the back, and a neckbreaker early on. Gargano had the advantage for a bit after that sequence. Tozawa came back with a vertical suplex. Gargano came back with slam and then went to the top rope. Tozawa gave him a Brogue kick and then a superplex: 1…2…NO! Gargano came back with Diced Bread: 1…2…NO! They traded saito suplexes and then simultaneously hit a lariat on each other. They got to their feet and started trading strikes. Gargano gave Tozawa an enzugiri to the floor and then hit a suicide dive. Back in the ring, Tozawa gave Gargano an enzugiri to the floor, hit TWO suicide dives, and then a flip senton off the apron. Back in the ring, Tozawa killed him with a release German suplex. Tozawa tried for the Everest German, but Gargano rolled through for a nearfall. Gargano hit the Lawn Dart, a superkick, and a Hurt’s Donut: 1…2…NO! Johnny then locked in the Gargano Escape! Tozawa made the ropes. Tozawa hit a Trouble in Paradise and a bridging German: 1…2…NO! Tozawa went for a middle rope dive, but Gargano caught him with an Ace Crusher and locked in the Gargano Escape! Tozawa taps!
This was a really strong match between these two, although it was a couple of notches below their DGUSA match a couple of months later. Th best comparison I can make is that this felt like a free TV match whereas their DGUSA match felt like a PPV battle. There is nothing wrong with that by the way. Gargano and Tozawa have amazing chemistry, and I loved that AIW had Gargano win clean. I highly recommend that you watch this match. Match Rating: ***1/2
Aaron Epic vs. JT Dunn from AIW’s Gauntlet for the Gold 2012
This match was originally supposed to be Dunn, Leon St. Giovanni, & Stan Stylez vs. Sugar Dunkerton, Aaron Epic, & Pinkie Sanchez, but travel issues fucked that up.
Super, a fan calls JT Dunn a "faggot" during his entrance. I love wrestling, but sometimes I hate my fellow wrestling fans with a burning passion. They trade some strikes. Ok, they trade a lot of strikes. Epic went to the top rope, but Dunn pulled him off. Dunn hit a twisting Fisherman buster type move for a nearfall. Dunn was in full control at this point. Epic managed to hit a double stomp out of the corner to block a charging Dunn. Epic made a comeback. he got a nearfall with a leg lariat. Dunn came back with a saito suplex and a kneeling superkick: 1...2...NO! Epic hit a Fastball Punch, but Dunn came right back with a pair of Brogue Kicks. Epic got Dunn in the backslide position and then hit the Zombie Kiss #2 (a twisting GTS type move). Another Fastball Punch: 1...2...3
There was a lot of good action here, but the environment didn't do much to enhance it. I would speculate that it was a combination of the crowd not getting the match they expected and Dunn/Epic not playing to the crowd that much. I still enjoyed it though. Epic is much more polished and crisp in the ring then he is given credit for. Match Rating: **1/2
Mia Yim vs. Allysin Kay from AIW’s Girls Night Out 6 (2012)
This was an unsanctioned, Fans Bring the Weapons match for the vacant AIW Women's Title. Yim broke Kay's nose, which caused a tremendous amount of bleeding at the last Girls Night Out show.
They traded some slaps to start the match. Yim delivered some Kawada kicks, but Kay came back with a German suplex. They brawled. Kay picked up an AK-47 that someone brought to the ring, but there were no bullets in it. They both picked up baseball bats at the same time, but I guess they thought better of it and put them down. Kay hit her in the ass with a broom. Yim managed to bait Kay to the outside. Yim then hit a soccer punt from the apron. And a second soccer punt. Yim went for a third punt, but Kay blocked it with a chair. Kay then hit a soccer punt of her own, but she used a chair to do it. They brawled around the ringside area after that. Kay pulled out a machete. Yim backed off and fell to the entrance ramp. Kay went to stab her, but Yim moved out of the way and Kay's machete got stuck in the ramp. Yim then hit her with a pink light tube. Chest Flexor, The Chad, & Sassy Stephie came out. Yim and Kay both used to be in Flexor Industries. Flexor threw powder into Yim's face and Kay hit a back suplex: 1...2...3!
Kay didn't notice Flexor throwing the powder into Yim's face, so she tried to get the match restarted. She then bea down The Chad and Chest Flexor. Matt Wadsworth, the AIW President, came out and said that the match would not be restarted, but now that these two have each defeated each other once, there would most definitely be a rematch. Wadsworth said he would make sure that no one interfered in the rematch.
Based on what happened in their first match, I was surprised that this wasn't a little crazier. I guess that's what the machete spots were for, but to me, spots in wrestling that involve actual life threatening consequences are a little goofy and take me out of the action. I understand the attempted story, but as soon as a machete is pulled out, I know the opponent is going to avoid it. Other than that though, I enjoyed this match quite a bit, and I definitely recommend that you watch it. Match Rating: ***
The 411: These are some relatively random matches from AIW, but they give you a good read on different periods of AIW's history. AIW has really gotten some good buzz in the last year or so, and they are definitely a promotion that you should be checking out if you haven't already. From this set, the Gargano/Tozawa match is definitely the match you really need to check out, but it's also cool to check out the stuff with Tyler Black aka Seth Rollins.